MUNSTER | It didn't take long after the holiday weekend for the Munster wrestling team to return to work again with a Monday morning practice.
"We're a little sluggish today. It may take us a while to get back up to speed," Mustang coach Dan Gelarden said. "We got a big tournament coming up this week."
That would be the Mishawaka Invitational today and the Jan. 15 Northwest Crossroads Conference tournament at Lowell.
As the defending NCC champion and after capturing all of their NCC dual meets this season, the Mustangs appear poised to win the program's first back-to-back conference titles.
"Actually, we're about one-third of the way there," Gelarden said. "The other two-thirds depend on how well we place at the conference tournament.
"But this part of the season we look more at the individual aspect of wrestling. We want to see where each kid is in regards to their chances of advancing as individuals into the postseason."
Two years ago as a sophomore 103-pounder, Aurelio Medina placed eighth at the IHSAA State Finals. He's among the top-ranked 112-pounders this season, and has just one loss -- to last year's 112-pound state champ, Kyle Ayersman of Lake Central.
"This will be my last go," Medina said. "I plan to go to college, but just as a student.
"I want to make it back down to state and try to improve as the season goes on."
With 12 other seniors on the team, including 2010 regional champ Jack Seaman (215) and three-time semistate qualifier Jake Smith (152), Medina says this is the strongest Mustang team he's been on during his four-year career.
But as a collective group, the Mustangs have yet to reach their ideal fighting weight.
"A lot of our guys have been wrestling up a bracket," Gelarden said. "Like (Medina), he lost to Ayersman at 119.
"With the holidays early in the season, we didn't want to put too much pressure on our guys to watch their weight. Sometimes that can bump you up to an easier opponent, or you can run into a tougher one. But now they're starting to settle in to where they should be."